I found Jesus many years ago. Actually, it was on the Thursday before Easter when our face-to-face meeting took place. But our coming together did not occur in a typical place of worship. Not even close. Instead, he appeared to me in a grassy median strip that divides the north and southbound lanes of I95.
Jesus, as the long-haired man identified himself to me, must have been working an undercover assignment, and I say this because he wore a couple of old and ratty men’s dress shirts (one on top of the other), faded blue jeans, and
holy holey Chuck Taylor sneakers. Sure, his hair was long and wavy and his beard was like the one that’s familiar to us from the portraits we see of the Son of God. But something wasn’t quite right.
Being the savvy police investigator that I was, I began to pick up on a few clues, and there were several questions scrolling across the marquee inside my brain. Questions that needed answering, like… Why would Jesus speak with a southern accent? How would Jesus know to address me as Captain? Was he current on his knowledge of rank insignias? Why would Jesus attempt to thumb a ride on the interstate? Why were his shoes wet? After all, there’s that “walking on water” thing. Why were his eyes darting from side to side instead of focusing on me? Was he telepathically watching a tennis match being played at Pearly Gate Stadium? And why did the man who once fed thousands with a couple of fish keep asking me for money so he could buy something to eat?
Needless to say, I was confused. So I questioned the man about his identity (treading lightly, just in case).
When I asked where he lived, his lips split into a slight grin before he responded. “My son, I live everywhere. From mountaintop to the bottom of the deepest ocean. I live in the hearts of the saved and in the bodies of the damned.”
Okay, I admit, this was bit spooky.
He continued. “I was baptized by John and I seek perfection in all men.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Could he really be…
“Captain, I’d like to go home. Could you help me?”
What’s this, I thought. Jesus needs my help? Is that even possible?
“Where is home…sir?” I couldn’t quite bring myself to call him Jesus. At least not this soon in our earthly relationship.
“I live at the hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, Captain. I went for a walk yesterday and haven’t been able to find my way since.”
Well, that was a switch. Jesus telling me that he couldn’t find his way, when I’d been “lost” for a good portion of my life. “Sure,” I said. I’ll be glad to help you. In fact, I’ll call someone right now to see what we need to do to get you home. In the meantime, would you like something to eat?”
“Yes, my son, I would. Could I have a hamburger, some delicious fries, and a chocolate milkshake? That’s my favorite.”
“Sure you can,” I said. “Whatever you want.”
God bless you, son. There’s a place in heaven for you.”
I guess I’ll never know for sure, but stranger things have happened. At the very least, I shared a meal with a very humble man who, by the way, devoured his supper like it was, well, his last.